Mayo Clinic – Mind and Body Connection

by Fran Fox on April 7, 2013

If you are reading this and you are worried and depressed about your illness or a loved one illness, you can improve the situation by training your mind.  And with Mayo Clinic’s  help you can start right now.  Please read on.

Amit Sood, Associate Professor of Medience at Mayo Clinic uses healing methods that restore well-being rather than just treating illness. A key technique involves what he calls “focused awareness.” Says Dr. Sood: “I train patients in cultivating awareness allowing them to increase their depth of perception and decrease judgment, to refine their awareness with forgiveness and acceptance.”

The technique is best cultivated by practicing mindfulness throughout the day. Doctor Sood says the goal is to disengage from obsessive thoughts, which cause unnecessary suffering. “When your attention is mostly within your mind,” he says, “you tend to focus on the negative and think excessively.” Greater awareness of life’s everyday moments shifts attention away from the spiraling negativity of thoughts.


He also suggests meditation or prayer, which he says can help patients find meaning and purpose despite their conditions.  Dr. Sood believes these non-drug-based approaches help give patients the internal resilience needed to persevere through challenging illness and the weight of worrying and helping loved ones that are ill.  “We may not be able to remove the pain always,” Dr. Sood says, “but we can get rid of the suffering all the time.”

The good news is that we can decrease stress and increase resilience by retooling the mind.  Mayo Clinic offers many pearls for daily practice. Here are a few examples:

  • When you awake (first thing), think of five people you’re grateful for. Alternatively, make a collage with photos of five people you’re grateful for. Spend a few minutes thinking about the blessings they each offer you. Doing this every morning provides an immediately available alternative to negative ruminations that often fill our head before we are even out of bed. This is the practice of Joyful Attention.
  • Take a walk in nature each day if possible. Look closely at the details of a tree trunk, the petals of a wild flower, listen closely to the sounds. Just by being in nature you are engaging a part of the brain associated with joy. This is the practice of Joyful Attention.
  • When you’re out somewhere, look at the faces of the first twenty or so people you see. Smile, and say to yourself, “I wish you well”. Remember, you’re channeling attention away from the ruminations of the mind and practicing presence. Try it and see if you feel any differently. This is the practice of Kind Attention.

For more information (including a iPhone app) from Mayo Clinic on training your very powerful mind:

Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Update!  New Book from Amit Sood

The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living

Mayo Clinic Guide to Mindful Exercises 

iTunes – Mayo Clinic Meditation




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